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Jimmie Gordon

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Jimmie Gordon , Chicago blues singer and pianist.

As is the case with so many African-American musicians who were active during the first half of the 20th century Jimmie Gordon languished in posthumous obscurity for years and was subsequently “rediscovered,” which in his case meant having his legacy tangled up in erroneous and inconclusive information. He is believed to have been born in the year 1906, but the claim that he originated in St. Louis is almost certainly traceable to a fabricated reference stemming from the fact that his recording of “Bed Springs Blues” was released by Decca as the flip side of a tune played by St. Louis bluesman Peetie Wheatstraw (“The Devil’s Son-in-Law”) with the phrase “Peetie Wheatstraw’s Brother” printed on the label after Gordon’s name. This marketing gimmick gave rise to all kinds of theories as to Gordon’s heredity and origins. There is no evidence that he had anything to do with St. Louis, and the only direct link he had with Wheatstraw was their collaboration during a session that took place in October 1938 with guitarist Lonnie Johnson.

Jimmie Gordon, who had a hit with his October 1936 recording of “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water,” was active on the Chicago blues scene throughout the decade leading up to the Second World War, and is known to have recorded 67 titles between 1934 and 1946, all of which have been reissued on compact disc by the Document label. Gordon was a passable pianist who sang with all his heart in a warm and convincing voice.

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